On 22 March 2020, the Australian government announced the second stage of its economic plan to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus and help build a bridge to recovery. Here is a summary of key points in the government stimulus package.
- The Jobseeker (Newstart) payment increased by $550 per fortnight (inclusive of Jobseeker payment, Youth Allowance, Parenting payment, farm household allowance, and special benefit).
- For people who are not eligible for the extra Newstart payment, an additional $750 – the first payment on 31 March, the second on 13 July.
- Income and asset tests and waiting times will be waived for those who lose their jobs and apply for the Jobseeker program.
- Individuals in financial stress can access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-2020, and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. This will be available to individuals who
- are unemployed, or
- are eligible to receive a JobSeeker (Newstart) payment, youth allowance for job seekers, parenting payment, special benefit, or farm household allowance, or
- from 1 January 2020
- – were made redundant, or
- – had their working hours reduced by 20% or more, or
- – for sole traders, their business was suspended or there was a reduction in their turnover of 20% of more.
To access the benefit (for non-SMSF members) individuals will apply to the ATO via My Gov. The ATO will provide the fund and individuals with a determination. For SMSF members, guidance has not yet been released.
- Expanding the small business support payments from $25,000 to up to $100,000. This includes not-for-profits. The minimum payment will be $20,000. The first payment will be a payment of up to 100% of wages tax paid (up from 50 percent) with the maximum at $50,000. The payment will be from 28 April. The second payment, to match the first, will be from 28 July.
- A reduction of the compulsory superannuation drawdown rates by 50 percent for 2019-20, and 2020-21.
- A government guarantee on 50% of fast-tracked loans issued by lenders.
- Changes to thresholds on which creditors can issue statutory demands and the time companies have to respond.
- Temporary relief for directors from personal liability if they trade whilst insolvent.
- The Victorian state government will offer a refund of payroll tax paid by eligible business (payroll of less than $3 million) in the first three quarters of this financial year. Business should be able to access this by 27 March 2020. This will provide business a maximum of $113,475, but limited to the amount of payroll tax paid.